Rupert BrookeThe Old Vicarage, Grantchester(Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)


Rupert BrookeThe Old Vicarage, Grantchester

(Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)

–//–
Just now the lilac is in bloom,

All before my little room;

And in my flower-beds, I think,

Smile the carnation and the pink;

And down the borders, well I know,

The poppy and the pansy blow . . .

Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,

Beside the river make for you

A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep

Deeply above; and green and deep

The stream mysterious glides beneath,

Green as a dream and deep as death.

— Oh, damn! I know it! and I know

How the May fields all golden show,

And when the day is young and sweet,

Gild gloriously the bare feet

That run to bathe . . .

                            ‘Du lieber Gott!’

Here am I, sweating, sick, and hot,

And there the shadowed waters fresh

Lean up to embrace the naked flesh.

Temperamentvoll German Jews

Drink beer around; — and THERE the dews

Are soft beneath a morn of gold.

Here tulips bloom as they are told;

Unkempt about those hedges blows

An English unofficial rose;

And there the unregulated sun

Slopes down to rest when day is done,

And wakes a vague unpunctual star,

A slippered Hesper; and there are

Meads towards Haslingfield and Coton

Where das Betreten’s not verboten.

ειθε γενοιμην . . . would I were

In Grantchester, in Grantchester! —

Some, it may be, can get in touch

With Nature there, or Earth, or such.

And clever modern men have seen

A Faun a-peeping through the green,

And felt the Classics were not dead,

To glimpse a Naiad’s reedy head,

Or hear the Goat-foot piping low: . . .

But these are things I do not know.

I only know that you may lie

Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,

And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,

Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,

Until the centuries blend and blur

In Grantchester, in Grantchester. . . .

Still in the dawnlit waters cool

His ghostly Lordship swims his pool,

And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,

Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.

Dan Chaucer hears his river still

Chatter beneath a phantom mill.

Tennyson notes, with studious eye,

How Cambridge waters hurry by . . .

And in that garden, black and white,

Creep whispers through the grass all night;

And spectral dance, before the dawn,

A hundred Vicars down the lawn;

Curates, long dust, will come and go

On lissom, clerical, printless toe;

And oft between the boughs is seen

The sly shade of a Rural Dean . . .

Till, at a shiver in the skies,

Vanishing with Satanic cries,

The prim ecclesiastic rout

Leaves but a startled sleeper-out,

Grey heavens, the first bird’s drowsy calls,

The falling house that never falls.

God! I will pack, and take a train,

And get me to England once again!

For England’s the one land, I know,

Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;

And Cambridgeshire, of all England,

The shire for Men who Understand;

And of THAT district I prefer

The lovely hamlet Grantchester.

For Cambridge people rarely smile,

Being urban, squat, and packed with guile;

And Royston men in the far South

Are black and fierce and strange of mouth;

At Over they fling oaths at one,

And worse than oaths at Trumpington,

And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,

And there’s none in Harston under thirty,

And folks in Shelford and those parts

Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,

And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,

And Coton’s full of nameless crimes,

And things are done you’d not believe

At Madingley on Christmas Eve.

Strong men have run for miles and miles,

When one from Cherry Hinton smiles;

Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,

Rather than send them to St. Ives;

Strong men have cried like babes, bydam,

To hear what happened at Babraham.

But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester!

There’s peace and holy quiet there,

Great clouds along pacific skies,

And men and women with straight eyes,

Lithe children lovelier than a dream,

A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream,

And little kindly winds that creep

Round twilight corners, half asleep.

In Grantchester their skins are white;

They bathe by day, they bathe by night;

The women there do all they ought;

The men observe the Rules of Thought.

They love the Good; they worship Truth;

They laugh uproariously in youth;

(And when they get to feeling old,

They up and shoot themselves, I’m told) . . .

Ah God! to see the branches stir

Across the moon at Grantchester!

To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten

Unforgettable, unforgotten

River-smell, and hear the breeze

Sobbing in the little trees.

Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand

Still guardians of that holy land?

The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,

The yet unacademic stream?

Is dawn a secret shy and cold

Anadyomene, silver-gold?

And sunset still a golden sea

From Haslingfield to Madingley?

And after, ere the night is born,

Do hares come out about the corn?

Oh, is the water sweet and cool,

Gentle and brown, above the pool?

And laughs the immortal river still

Under the mill, under the mill?

Say, is there Beauty yet to find?

And Certainty? and Quiet kind?

Deep meadows yet, for to forget

The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet

Stands the Church clock at ten to three?

And is there honey still for tea?

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2 responses to “Rupert BrookeThe Old Vicarage, Grantchester(Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)

  1. I was wondering if it was ever to end, very good and actual quite poetic with a story in there and flowers, and tea ❤ stream of old dead poet ghosting about in your head? Is your new house haunted? just kidding 🙂

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